Our lives would look very different without these items invented by women.
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Maybelline New York Beauty & Beyond

Coffee filters. Dishwashers. Hair brushes. Windshield wipers. Computer programming language. Try to imagine how your day would go without these things.

Unless you live in a cabin in the woods and couldn't care less about modern conveniences (in which case, you're probably not reading this), the answer is "not well."

Think about it: Getting ready for work probably took people 10 times as long without paper filters to make coffee, hair brushes to tame bed-head, or windshield wipers for safe driving in storms. Then, of course, once you finally got to there, you'd be doing all your research, correspondence, and clerical work without the help of a computer.


Anyone else hyperventilating yet?

Even Oscar Wilde didn't find it amusing. Photo via Metropolitan Museum of Art/Wikimedia Commons.

The reason life no longer looks like that time-consuming nightmare is because a number of brilliant women invented things to help make our day-to-day a whole lot easier.

Here's a look at five of them.

1. Melitta Bentz streamlined the coffee-making process.

Bentz and her marvelous invention. Photo by Otto Sarony/Wikimedia Commons.

You know how those nifty little paper sleeves keep coffee grinds out of your morning (afternoon, evening) cup o' Joe? Well that's all thanks to Melitta Bentz, a German woman who figured out that using paper instead of cloth to filter coffee is much more efficient.

Before she patented her invention in 1908, people used to put coffee grinds in a small cloth bag, which then went into boiling water. This often resulted in some gritty residue at the bottom of a cup of coffee. But by using a piece of paper from her son's notebook and a pot with a few holes punched in it, Benz prevented that effect. She also essentially invented the pour over method, which coffee lovers uphold to this day.

2. Mary Anderson made car travel much safer.

Anderson and a sketch of her "window cleaning device." Photos via Wikimedia Commons and the U.S. Patent Office.

It seems fitting that the windshield wiper was invented by a woman who was annoyed at being stuck in New York City traffic.

Anderson was visiting the bustling city in 1902 and decided to take a streetcar because it was snowing. However, the driver kept having to get out of the car to wipe off the windshield, which delayed her travel further. And that's when she thought, "If only there were some device that could wipe away precipitation and allow drivers to remain in their cars."

When she got home, she drew a sketch of the first windshield wiper. A year later, she had a patent for what she called a "window cleaning device."

3. Mabel Williams helped girls pump up their eyelashes.

Photo via Maybelline.

For a long time, women weren't able to do much to make their eyelashes appear longer and fuller, though many had used a variety of ingredients in an attempt to try.

So in 1915, a woman named Mabel Williams mixed coal dust, vaseline and oils for sheen to create one of the first mascaras.  Her brother saw the potential and developed a mail-order brush called Lash-Brow-Ine and launched the company — the Maybell Laboratories in Chicago.

The product caught on through print advertising, and two years later, Williams used it to launch the beauty brand — Maybelline — which might sound familiar.

4. Grace Hopper is part of the reason computers do what we want them to do (for now, anyway).

Hopper working with UNIVAC I — the first commercial electronic computer. Photo via The Smithsonian/Wikimedia Commons.

The reason computers work for us is because we feed them instructions that are then translated into code. Hopper led the team that's responsible for the first program that did that.

After she joined the U.S. Navy during World War II, she was assigned to work on the Mark I computer at Harvard. Her team created the first computer language compiler, which was the precursor for the Common Business Oriented Language, or COBOL, that would end up becoming a computer language used worldwide.

Of course today, computers are teaching us a thing or two, but none of their complexity would be possible without this first, pivotal step.

5. Lyda Newman designed a much more useful hairbrush.

Lyda Newman's revolutionary brush design. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Hairbrushes today help us keep our locks from looking like knotty messes, and that's largely thanks to Newman's ingenious design. Her brush had evenly-spaced rows of bristles with open slots to guide things like dust and dandruff away from the hair. The hairdresser got a patent for it in 1898, but her work for women didn't stop there.

She also worked with the African-American branch of the Woman Suffrage Party to help women get the vote in New York City. Who says activism and style can't go together?

Women inventors are responsible for so many things on which we've come to rely, yet their work often goes unsung.

It's about time we give them the spotlight they deserve.

To learn more about these and other women inventors, check out this video:

Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

Screenshots via @castrowas95/Twitter

In the Pacific Northwest, orca sightings are a fairly common occurrence. Still, tourists and locals alike marvel when a pod of "sea pandas" swim by, whipping out their phones to capture some of nature's most beautiful and intelligent creatures in their natural habitat.

While orcas aren't a threat to humans, there's a reason they're called "killer whales." To their prey, which includes just about everything that swims except humans, they are terrifying apex predators who hunt in packs and will even coordinate to attack whales several times their own size.

So if you're a human alone on a little platform boat, and a sea lion that a group of orcas was eyeing for lunch jumps onto your boat, you might feel a little wary. Especially when those orcas don't just swim on by, but surround you head-on.

Watch exactly that scenario play out (language warning, if you've got wee ones you don't want f-bombed):

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